Within an hour of finding out the lunatic rantings of James J. Lee, the man who stormed the Discovery building earlier this week, blogs on the left and right took to the partisan hits. To the left he was a right wing extremist and to the right he was some left wing extremist. Today The New Republic takes issue with both sides being so quick to jump the partisan gun:
Lord have mercy. These days, a man can’t even strap on a bunch of explosives, take a network building hostage, and get himself shot dead by police without touching off a partisan slap fest.
Before I fired up my computer this morning, I assumed that conservative partisans would have been busy little beavers during the night. Sure enough, not one but two e-mails awaited me, crowing about James Lee’s environmental extremism. Since then, I’ve run across plenty more Web posts with headlines dubbing Lee a “Violent Liberal Environmentalist” or a “Liberal Ecoterrorist” or otherwise crowing about his not-a-conservative status.
I was more surprised, I confess, by a post at the liberal blog Think Progress, detailing how Lee’s online manifesto “Echoes Anti-immigrant Groups’ Malthusian Screed,” then walking readers through the sinister phenomenon of nativism’s greenwashing. It’s not that I think liberals are necessarily above that sort of opportunistic bashing. But linking Lee’s behavior to an ugly right-wing ideology took considerably more creativity and chutzpah than the right’s gloating about Lee’s fondness for An Inconvenient Truth.
So, if we were forced to pick sides between James J. Lee: left-wing enviroradical and James Lee: militant right-wing nativist, the data points favor Option A.
But, to state the obvious, we’re not forced to pick sides. Lee wasn’t an ideologue driven by his own political extremism to do something drastic. He was, first and foremost, batshit crazy. We’re talking about someone who so lost touch with reality that he thought the best way to save the planet was to force a television network to run game shows promoting the ideals of “human sterilization and infertility.” (Can’t you just envision the “Jeopardy” spin-off? Thanks so much, Alex! I’ll take chemical castration for $400.)
The entire article is deserving of a good read because it hits the main point to a tee – Lee wasn’t left or right. Lee was just another crazy in an ever increasing world of crazies. Much like the people who executed 9/11 weren’t symbolic of Islam as a whole, they were just crazies who happened to be Muslim.
We need to move past this tendency to label everyone, rather it be a political label or religious. Every faction has people who aren’t all there in the head, but by constantly trying to label them as being part of one group or another, we are securing a more divisive future, when we should all work to come together.